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Centre working on proposal to make it mandatory for judges to declare assets annually

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The Centre is working on a proposal that would make it mandatory for all judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts to declare their assets annually.

The proposal also sought for social status data of all serving judges pertaining to their class/category to assess social diversity in the judiciary.

An action-taken report was put before the Rajya Sabha by a parliamentary standing committee for considering implementation of judicial processes and their reforms.

BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi, who chaired the committee, had asked Department of Justice on issues concerning the judiciary, including mandatory disclosure of assets.

The department, however, clearly stated that the government has proposed framing rules to make declaration of assets by judges mandatory.

The 30-member parliamentary committee included Mahesh Jethmalani (BJP), Vivek Tankha (Congress), P Wilson (DMK) and Kalyan Banerjee (Trinamool Congress).

The report by the parliamentary committee presented the response of the Centre which stated that based on the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Department is proposing to frame Rules under the High Court Judges Act, 1954 and Supreme Court Judges Act, 1958 to lay down a procedure for making statutory provisions in the Rules for Declaration of Assets by the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Court Judges on their initial appointment and thereafter every year by the due date.

This is still in process as the government has not begun consultations with the registry of the Supreme Court to know its views on the matter. The response is awaited.

The committee said that the Apex Court has gone to the extent of holding that public has a right to know the assets of those standing for elections as MPs or MLAs. When so, it belies logic that judges don’t need to disclose their assets and liabilities.

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